For some reason I had decided that it had pretty much thawed here in the Flatlands - pretty much all the snow has gone in the garden and on the roads and paths. There is a sprinkling in the fields. So, ignoring the fact that the South West of England has had a load of traffic-disrupting snow and we were predicted to get light snow in Cambridge I thought I would check out the route of the Cambridge Guided Busway (CBG) again.
My goal was to make the entire journey without resorting to riding on the concrete "rails" and to take a few more pictures of the route. Unfortunately by the time I set of it had already started snowing again and was pretty gloomy - not good for photography. I wore some sunglasses - not for snow blindness - but to stop the snow flakes going into my eyes. It is pretty unpleasant and almost impossible to keep the affected eye open. There was also a bit of wind that increased the wind chill factor - so I wrapped up well, but my feet weren't looking forward to the ride too much.
This time around I managed to find the entrance to the CBG off Milton Road. The reason I had missed it before was because the cycle path goes under the old railway line and yes I missed the obvious. Actually it is not that easy to get to from when heading out of town. On the way it was also an opportunity to get a picture of the "new" pedestrian/cycleway bridge across the Cam known as Riverside bridge and opened in June 2008. (See Wikipedia for Cambridge Bridges.) One of its features is that it separates cycles from pedestrians on the span across the river and it also serves to block Riverside as a through road for cars. This part of the Cam has quite a few boats moored up. One of the occupants of one of the boats seems to repair bicycles.
The first bit of the path from Milton Road to Histon is very chunky - I believe that it will have a tarmac surface and so this is a temporary layer. It is quite hard work. Not surprisingly you see a few cyclists on the concrete tracks along here. I was also surprised at how much snow there was still on the path. It was not too bad, I did not have any traction problems and I did stick to the path and not resort to the concrete track. This part also seemed popular with dog walkers - I hope they pick up after their little "friends"!
On my way out past Histon I followed a couple of horse-riders - the surface was not too bad at first and they trotted along - not quite as fast as I would cycle but not too unpleasant. Their trotting speed was around 15Km/10mph. Mind you when they got to a more snow covered surface they had to slow right down. Who would want to be a horse carrying someone and having to walk on ice huh? It is clearly a popular place to ride along though.
Soon the Tripod came into view - this bit of the track was pretty much covered in snow - but not too bad for cycling. I do not think this bit is getting any tarmac - it is slightly easier to cycle on - but still energy sapping. The people of Cambridge will be glad to hear that work has re-started on the CGB after Christmas - I saw at least 5 or 6 gangs along different parts. One group at the Milton end working on the car-trap areas. Out in the sticks there was some work on a nearby path with stuff being loaded onto a lorry for removal. I also passed two guys fixing a fence. The track serves as a maintenance track as well as a route for cyclists/pedestrians/horse-riders The Contractors were always very careful when they went by me and invariably waved. It was a cold day to be working outside digging holes in the ground.
The Parish Church of St Andrew in Swavesey soon came into view. It occupies some slightly higher ground.
I was soon approaching the lakes of Fen Drayton. This was impassable the last time I cycled along here. I was determined to do better this time. As it was snowing some of the flooded parts of the track looked more solid and I cycled over them only to realise that I was cycling on a thin layer of snow on top of an unknown thickness of ice on top of an unknown thickness of water. I was not worried it would be dangerously deep - I was worried about falling off into the cold water though. I tended to cycle at the edge of the path.
It soon got to the point where I did not want to risk falling through the ice. In places maintenance vehicles had crunched up the ice and it had re-frozen, that was even harder to cycle on and not as thick either. I ended up cycling along the concrete track for the last bit into St Ives. Being a weekday I only passed a handful of people out dog-walking and bird-watching and the track itself was pretty much free of ice except for a bridge near St Ives. I was hoping to suss out how deep the tracks were flooded - I don't mind cycling through water, as long as the surface underneath is ok and the water is not too deep.
A google map of the area only shows lakes on one side of the track, a Google Satellite view shows lakes on both sides. The lakes were also partly frozen.
I cycled along the snow-covered path here - but you can see this bird-watcher in the distance took to the concrete track. It seems as if the paths are bound to flood as they are so low-lying. Wherever a path comes into the CBG from the side it is generally on higher ground.
I cycled along this bit as well, it was not too bad - the ice creaked once or twice and I did jump off onto the side at one point. As I mentioned not the end of the world to get wet - but it would have been unpleasant. I was wearing waterproof socks - but only just past my ankles. Thinking back I am very glad I did not have any problems as even without dipping my feet in they were frozen by the time I got home.
When the weather thaws out I must start putting together some circular routes returning back through the lakes. In fact I must try and cycle this route at least once a month and photograph the changes. Unless I find it too unpleasant when the buses start running - I am hoping it won't be too bad though.